California looks to boost marijuana, block immigration jails

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California looks to boost marijuana, block immigration jails
California looks to boost marijuana, block immigration jails

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) – California lawmakers voted Thursday to set rules for the state’s nascent marijuana industry and to quash the growth of federal immigration detention as lawmakers approved major pieces of a state budget for the next fiscal year.

Lawmakers sent Gov. Jerry Brown a measure merging the state’s longstanding medical marijuana law with the much more permissive rules voters approved last year to legalize pot sales to people 21 and older. The state will develop standards for organic marijuana, allow pot samples at county fairs and permit home deliveries.

The Legislature also backed a measure to limit new beds for immigration detention, dealing a blow to the Trump administration’s efforts to boost deportation. The measure prevents local governments from signing or expanding contracts with federal authorities for immigration detention facilities. It also calls for the state’s attorney general to review conditions at the centers.

The marijuana and immigration provisions are pieces of a $125 billion general fund spending plan that increases money for education and social services while imposing new financial restrictions on the University of California following a scathing audit. The full spending bill is expected to pass the Legislature later Thursday.

Brown, a Democrat, has called the budget “balanced and progressive.” Legislative Democrats praised the budget, saying it would help alleviate poverty while building up savings for a future economic downturn.

“This is a budget that does things for people, not to people,” said Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon. “With this budget we keep our promises to students, patients and voters… In this budget we will protect what we have gained and we will persist in moving forward.”

Republicans blasted unrelated measures tucked into the budget, including a plan to change the rules for removing lawmakers from office, which could benefit a Democratic Orange County senator facing a recall. They said the budget fails to adequately prepare for a recession and reneges on promises to voters, who last year approved a tobacco tax increase intended to improve access to health care.

“It’s corrosive to continue to break promises,” said Senate Minority Leader Pat Bates, R-Laguna Niguel. “Californians were promised better schools, better health care, better roads. Yet this budget falls short on all three counts.”

The one-year budget takes effect July 1. The $125 billion figure reflects spending from the general fund – the money over which lawmakers have the most control. Including bonds and special funds, the budget is $183 billion.

Thursday’s vote caps weeks of negotiations after Brown, warning of a looming recession and likely federal budget cuts, proposed a budget that reversed spending approved last year and eliminated a middle-class scholarship program. Brown also wanted to use $1.2 billion from a voter-approved tobacco tax increase to cover normal growth in the Medi-Cal program.

He relented on those demands, agreeing to use about half of the tobacco tax money to boost payments for doctors and dentists who care for people on Medi-Cal, the state health plan for the needy.

Brown and lawmakers also agreed to increase funding for after-school care, subsidized child care and legal assistance for immigrants facing deportation. They also agreed to restore full dental and eyeglass coverage for people on Medi-Cal.

By law, about half the budget goes to education. Spending on K-12 schools and community colleges is up $3.1 billion from this year, and universities are getting a funding boost tied to increasing enrollment.

The budget seeks to impose reforms on the University of California’s budgeting and record-keeping following the release of an April audit found administrators hid tens of millions of dollars from the public as tuition rose. UC President Janet Napolitano disputes the findings, but $50 million will be withheld from the university system until she shows she’s complying with the audit.

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This story has been corrected to show the budget is $125 billion, not $125 million.

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Associated Press writer Sophia Bollag contributed.

FILE – In this May 31, 2017 file photo, California Gov. Jerry Brown speaks during an interview in Sacramento, Calif. California lawmakers are scheduled to vote Thursday, June 15, on a budget that increases spending on education and social services while imposing new financial restrictions on the University of California. The $125 million general fund spending plan was negotiated by Brown and legislative leaders. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)
FILE – In this May 14, 2013, Rosy Solis, left, and Nicole Denis help fill medical marijuana prescriptions at the Venice Beach Care Center medical marijuana dispensary in Los Angeles. California would set standards for organic marijuana, allow pot samples at county fairs and permit home deliveries under legislation set to be considered by lawmakers Thursday, June 15, 2017, as the state prepares for next year’s start of legal marijuana sales. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File)
Joseph Hough, an employee at the Canna Care medical marijuana dispensary, displays a pre-packaged marijuana bud Wednesday, June 14, 2017, in Sacramento, Calif. Tucked in the state budget agreement reached between Gov. Jerry Brown and top legislative Democrats, are standards to merge the state’s new voter-approved recreational marijuana law with the long-standing medical marijuana program. Lawmakers are expected to vote on the budget plan, Thursday. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
Pre rolled marijuana cigarettes are displayed at the Canna Care medical marijuana dispensary Wednesday, June 14, 2017, in Sacramento, Calif. Tucked in the state budget agreement reached between Gov. Jerry Brown and top legislative Democrats, are standards to merge the state’s new voter-approved recreational marijuana law with the long-standing medical marijuana program. Lawmakers are expected to vote on the budget plan, Thursday. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
FILE – In this April 23, 2017, file photo, vendors offer marijuana for sale at the High Times Cannabis Cup in San Bernardino. California would set standards for organic marijuana, allow pot samples at county fairs and permit home deliveries under legislation set to be considered by lawmakers Thursday, June 15, 2017, as the state prepares for next year’s start of legal marijuana sales. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)
FILE – In this April 20, 2017, file photo, in celebration of the 4/20 holiday bud-tenders help customers at ShowGrow, a medical marijuana dispensary in downtown Los Angeles. California would set standards for organic marijuana, allow pot samples at county fairs and permit home deliveries under legislation set to be considered by lawmakers Thursday, June 15, 2017, as the state prepares for next year’s start of legal marijuana sales. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)
FILE – In this April 23, 2017 file photo Calfarms, a medical marijuana provider help attendees at the High Times Cannabis Cup in San Bernardino, Calif. California is trying to get control of its unruly medical marijuana industry. California would set standards for organic marijuana, allow pot samples at county fairs and permit home deliveries under legislation set to be considered by state lawmakers. The provisions were tucked into the state budget agreement between Gov. Jerry Brown and top Democratic lawmakers. It’s scheduled for approval in the Legislature on Thursday, June 15, 2017. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)
FILE – In this Tuesday, May 2, 2017 file photo, Monica Lozano, left, chair of the University of California Board of Regents, and UC President Janet Napolitano, sit in the audience before appearing before the Joint Legislative Audit Committee in Sacramento, Calif. Lawmakers are expected to vote Thursday, June 15. 2017, on a state budget plan that withholds $50 million from the UC system until Napolitano’s office shows it’s complying with recommendations from a scathing audit of her office. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)
FILE — In this Tuesday, May 2, 2017 file photo State Auditor Elaine Howle, right, looks over at University of California President Jane Napolitano reads her statement concerning the audit conducted by Howle’s office, during a hearing of the Joint Legislative Audit Committee,in Sacramento, Calif. Lawmakers are expected to vote Thursday, June 15. 2017, on a state budget plan that withholds $50 million from the UC system until Napolitano’s office shows it’s complying with recommendations from a scathing audit of her office. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)